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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Faith: A Certitude Defined by Flexibility

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The Crack-Up" in Esquire (2/36)


Hebrews 11 J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)
11 1-3 Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old. And it is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible.


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Friday, April 13, 2018

Heading Down the Zion Trail

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Declaration of US Essential Dependence

Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 

39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 23

27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Please consider the following video link urgent and obligatory!

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Meditation Moment

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Work in Progress

It’s 5:30 AM and this morning I am sitting alone in front of the Marshall Student Center at USF Tampa – now all aglow in lights. On the way here I stopped  by  the Waffle House and had a T-bone steak with eggs and grits. The restaurant was full of happy people well acquainted with each other and with the staff as well.  A great feeling of warmth came over me when I realized we were all "works in progress." Somewhere I have seen on T-shirts “God is not through with me yet.” That’s really a wonderful insight I think. – To know that we are not the end-all and be-all of human progress and civilization. I remember so well a University of South Florida's history professor saying that it seems that every generation thinks their challenges are the most important that mankind has or will ever face. What a relief it is to see that humanity is a work in progress. There is always so much more to learn and understand. Why don't we have a little more generosity for our fellow humans not only in the past nor merely present but also in the time to come. If God is willing to risk it,  who am I to do any less?

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Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Springtime Throwing Open of Windows

Matthew 16:5-12  NIV
5 When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. 6 “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

7 They discussed this among themselves and said, “It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”

8 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? 9 Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? 11 How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.


John 3:3-7  NIV
3 Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.

3 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.[a]”

4 “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You[c] must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”[d]


Sometimes I like to think of Emily Dickinson in correspondence with Lucy from the Peanuts cartoon.  I think it would only be a matter of time before one or the other or both committed suicide.  The above passages cannot help but elicit sympathy for Jesus—surely he must have occasionally sighed—“Come on fellows…give me a little help here.”

This past week I have been in several discussions about the story(s) of creation described in Genesis—people ask, do you think it is true?  In my view the original tellers of this story might change a word or two considering the endless enervating and bizarre discussions we now hear that seem to totally miss the point.  Maybe the author would settle for “first phase” rather than “first day" (anything to bring a little sanity and peace and, lo, a semblance of intelligence to a tiresome discussion recalling the endless chatter about how many angels can fit in a phone booth (or was it on the head of a pin?). 

But the whole point anyway is to affirm with no wiggle room whatever that God IS the Creator and humans ignore THIS FACT at the direst of personal and social peril.  Part of being real (Genesis makes clear) is that God is boss, and we are not.  (Considering the Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence of God, it seems absurdly unnecessary to make such a statement except for man’s ego IQ whose elevation falls pitifully below that of a sun-bleached cow patty.)

I too await a rebirth of wonder….punctuated often by laughter and joy.

(PS:  Some weeks ago I dismissed a friend’s sincere question regarding the Genesis creation account with an arrogant dismissal as if the question were stupid….rather than that of my splattering ego IQ.)

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Puzzle Is in the Proofing

Isaiah 41:~9 & 10 NIV

I said, ‘You are my servant’;
    I have chosen you and have not rejected you.
10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


Matthew 16:1-4  NIV

1Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came and tested Jesus by asking Him to show them a sign from heaven.
2But He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘The weather will be fair, for the sky is red;’ 3and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but not the signs of the times! A wicked and adulterous generation demands a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.

It seems a curious thing that believers can see the assisting hand of God daily while non-believers never see it at all. There are here two perceived realities, yet it is fair to ask is there only one set of facts?—is God in some sense absent from not only the perception of non-believers but also from actual ad hoc micro assistance as well (the Bible holds that the benefit of macro blessings obtains to all).—So then, if a probability study were to be made regarding the egregiously small likelihood of a related chain of micro events (a miracle) obtaining to the benefit of believers, it would be difficult if not impossible to devise a tenable control group to assess the sway of perception as distinct from fact.

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Tilerson Encore Chased by Little Needed Commentary

View edited Tilerson encore here:


One might be a little surprised to find an Eagle Scout with the added distinctions of a former major corporate executive and Secretary of State affirming that protecting and defending intimate and close relationships is social priority one.  But for those with a democratic, egalitarian spirit the empowering reality of deeply experienced relationships underlies effective and successful human behavior on all levels.   I once asserted that the most effected armed forces are born from a visceral understanding of the preeminence of family-type bonding as the most profound of human experience.  Absent this empathetic perpetual nursery of stars and  reliable friendships, entropy lurks to destroy individuals and nations and eventually the human family itself.

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Friday, March 23, 2018

All Aboard!!

Which train will you board (fight for, live for, and die for)?


All Aboard!!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Club Man

2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)


30 “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Matthew 12:30-32 (NIV)


Adjective: evangelical
1. Relating to or being a Christian church believing in personal conversion and the inerrancy of the Bible especially the 4 Gospels

2. Of, pertaining to, or in keeping with the Christian Gospel, especially as in the first 4 books of the New Testament
Noun: evangelical
1. Someone who is an evangelical Christian


It is time to ask a simple question: Is Donald Trump cursed?  Has he screwed one too many angels without knowing it?  Perhaps it was that just contractor, or that well-wishing loan officer, or that good-hearted custodial worker, or that judge, or intelligence officer?  It is true that God does’t create junk, but he certainly detests an ugly spirit.  Has God abandoned Donald to the evil one?  And how is it that sanctimonious evangelicals found him such a kindred spirit?  

We dismiss the founding document of our civilization's legacy (The Bible) at at our own shattering peril.  The arrogant within this abiding light stand self-condemned.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Life's Little Jokes

My apologies for the shameful incoherence you may find regarding the above video clip and the blog below.


  • A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — 'Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.' — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.
  • Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are the dead.
    • Aldous Huxley, "Wordsworth in the Tropics" in Do What You Will (1929).
  • Consistency is a virtue for trains: what we want from a philosopher is insights, whether he comes by them consistently or not.
    • Stephen Vizinczey, "Good Faith and Bad" in London Sunday Telegraph (4/21/1974); reprinted in Truth and Lies in Literature (1986).
  • Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
    • Oscar Wilde, "The Relation of Dress to Art" in Pall Mall Gazette (2/28/1885); reprinted in Aristotle at Afternoon Tea:The Rare Oscar Wilde (1991).
  • Consistency is the enemy of enterprise, just as symmetry is the enemy of art.
    • George Bernard Shaw, quoted by Michael Holroyd in Bernard Shaw: The Lure of Fantasy (1991).
  • The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.
  • Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.
  • A silly ass … wrote a paper to prove me inconsistent. … Inconsistency is the bugbear of fools! I wouldn't give a damn for a fellow who couldn't change his mind with a change of conditions.
    • John Arbuthnot "Jacky" Fisher, British Admiral and First Sea Lord, in a letter to former Prime Minister Arthur Balfour (ndg); reported in Arthur J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904-1919. (1961-1965); quoted by Robert K. Massie in Deadnought: Britain, Germany and the Comiing of the Great War(1991).
  • I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own tastes.
    • Marchel Duchamp, quoted by Harriet & Sidney Janis in "Marchel Duchamp: Anti-Artist" in View magazine (3/21/45); reprinted in Robert Motherwell, Dada Painters and Poets(1951).
  • When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?
    • John Maynard Keynes, Reply to a criticism during the Great Depression of having changed his position on monetary policy, as quoted in "The Keynes Centenary" by Paul Samuelson, in The Economist Vol. 287 (1983), p. 19; later in The Collected Scientific Papers of Paul Samuelson, Volume 5 (1986), p. 275; also in "Understanding Political Development: an Analytic Study" (1987) by Myron Weiner, Samuel P. Huntington and Gabriel Abraham Almond, p. xxiv; this has also been paraphrased as "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"

[Chambers Thesaurus (5th Edition) © Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. 2015]


It has been my great good fortune in life to have friends and acquaintances who have strongly disagreed with me (though not consistently so).  My writing of blogs (which if nothing else have been great therapy for me) began when a co-worker and I found ourselves repeatedly on opposite poles in political discussions. ( 

Just yesterday the leader of our weekly men’s discussion group treated me to coffee and criticism.  He explained that he and several others at our last meeting objected to my incoherence . Perhaps for a moment my face turned red.  (There may be one or two of my readers who during school days spilled their guts in a class essay only to find it on return shatter-shot with the scarlet lettering “Incoherent"  (a label with no further illuminating explanation totally useless other than as extant evidence of bully bludgeoning).

Gradually those of us so wounded may come to learn that it's best to leave passion and conviction aside and put in its place cold calculation and kiss-ass ideology however respectfully translated.  As the song says, little children must be carefully taught.

Additionally, I would like to mention that a multitude of rich blessings can require a little patience.  Has anyone not had the experience of paced ideation development eventually unfolding to exquisite gifts from God? (Perhaps we should be less dogmatically certain of time and resource requirements for on-going thought processing--especially as that pertains to mental graphics.)  I often thank God for the sometimes mean-spirited opposition that God lovingly turns into blessings.  As King David wrote:   You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Psalm 23:5   NIV

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Swinging in the Vines

Big Kahuna : (definitions from:  
balls (male genitals).

The last Presidential election was in many ways a laboratory exercise in further identifying the American understanding of  “Big Kahuna”    In the Republican primary candidates spent considerable time during live TV debates hyping up their penis sizes for public perusal—something I had not personally seen since years ago in the woods playing Tarzan--when our little angelic halos only slightly tilted heavenward.   In the general election ultimate commitments sometimes became secondary to Call-to-Duty combat of breast vs penis.

After numerous university courses in public policy formation, I missed out on the rigors of this particular political/genital research discipline—no doubt an advanced offering for honors only.  Sometimes I ask myself: What should the voting age actually be in America  to exploit the keenest political interest—perhaps 12 for males and 10 for females?  God Bless America.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU!!  Theaters with wide screens thundered in dark sanctity the legendary rolling rectitude of righteous might. It should be noted that the Star Wars series followed on the heels of the Vietnam War with its top to bottom duplicity and wasted lives.

Hopefully our next election will advance from glutting over who has the tallest and most intimidating obelisk to an earnest laboratory effort employing the interplay of empathy and objectivity for the challenges that are pressing upon us. 

Please consider following link as obligatory (

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Extant Legacies of Dysfunctional Human Behavior

It is what it is....just deal with it. 


We are at a time in human history in which we show great impatience with anything that seems to nail us down to the past. We like to see ourselves as liberated from the past and summarily ditch what we see as unenlightened superstitions or twisted schemes that would rob us of personal liberty. To many, religion is simply a blind to fetter and enslave us on a cross of high-jinks and sham. I do not share this point of view.  The Ten Commandments instruct us not to covet:  “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”  (Exodus 20:17  NIV).  Likewise the Seven Deadly Sins are set forth as a caution for the ages:  According to the standard list, they are pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth ..(

We find that envy (jealousy) has always been a threat to stability in human relationships.  We have not, and probably never will, be able to chalk off envy as a purely historical deadly threat to human happiness and to that persistence born of stability.

It is my contention that the underlying drive causing havoc for American unity is the inability to humbly assent to the valid and legitimate (and often exclusive) role of others --especially when conceptualized as societal institutions.  It has long been a viewpoint of mine that those who insist that the 2nd Amendment treatment of arms (guns) is open-ended and unlimited is driven by envy.  Private citizens and groups envy governmental power and hence seek to usurp and posses the legitimate governmental role and power known as the Sword of the State. (I hasten to add that the Sword of the State addresses not only lurid street crime or joining an international military alliance but also to me personally if I should decide a legitimate civil contract I have entered is something I find too inconvenient to perform—an officer of the law can sooner or later be knocking on my door with a lethal weapon in tow).  I don't see all guns as an exclusive province of the state, but military style weapons capable of killing hundreds of people in seconds arising from personal impulse and anger certainly are. (And we can address later the extent to which "road-rage-type episodes" and "coolly exercised envy" are in fact instances of mental illness worthy of classification and treatment). In short, those who assume that human equality should project an institutional role identity husband an insidiously destructive ideology fueled by the human nemesis--envy.

I must add in closing that role uniqueness applies as well to other institutions including the family, the creative enterprise sector, and religion.  The generation that ignores personal and institutional limits and the duty to respect the legitimate and special role of others in our community will be blind to human virtues--the essential ingredients needed for trust and goodwill in any democracy..

A feeling of resentment and displeasure toward others by reason of their belongings, prosperity, advantages, position, or reputation. Envious persons want what others have and may feel that those possessing what is coveted are not entitled to it.  [Thanks to my JW friends for this entry.] 
(From Jehovah Witness publication: )

The Seven Contrary Virtues which are specific opposites to the Seven Deadly Sins: Humility against pride, Kindness against envy, Abstinence against gluttony, Chastity against lust, Patience against anger, Liberality against greed, and Diligence against sloth. 

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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Like Son, Like Father

George Hall

Today I visited the grave of my son George.  He was shot and killed last year.  I was there with Jerome--the older brother of George (and another son of mine).  One of the sayings on the grave marker is:
"You will Always Live in Our Hearts."

Yes I do want George to live in my heart in a way some may find surprising.  George had very high expectations of me--especially as to the trust he could place in me.  This he had from a very young age.  Some time ago, I knew of an incident regarding a brother of his who was incarcerated.  I did not tell him what I knew of the matter until several weeks later when he happened to phone me.  When I told him, his reaction was immediate and full-throttled. I understate the case to say that he burned with a righteous anger for my thoughtlessness in not notifying him immediately upon my first hearing the news of his brother.  His fierce but short-lived conflagration resulted in his enrolling in an anger management class.

You may find what I prayed at his grave-site today misled, but I prayed to God that when I find flagrantly thoughtless, disrespectful,or hurtful behavior (including lack of action when action is due); I pray that my anger will grow so strong and totally sufficient as to get me off my ass to do something--even if that merely means panoramic firework conflagrations accompanied by spectacular holy ruckus explosions. I fondly hope that the target of my wrath will understand that I not only wish to protect his victim, but that I also have high expectation of him.  And when (not if) my own dull-headed behavior hurts others, I will then heap opprobrium upon myself until my Savior forgives and, on turning a page in his Great Book, says with a consummate straight face: “Well son, there’s always a first time for anything."

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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Embedding Diet Pills with Tape Worms

Verb: diminish
1. Become smaller or less in size, extent, or range
2. Lessen the authority, dignity, or reputation of


diminish /di-minĖˆish/
transitive verb
1. To make less
2. To take a part from
3. To degrade or belittle

[Chambers Dictionary (13th Edition)]


To use an old term, my physique is rather “stout.”  For those uninitiated in ancient polite discourse that means “fat”.  Everyone, it seems, is ready and willing to give me advice that for better health I should lose a few (say 75!) pounds.  And I am certain that everyone offering this advice loves me and has goodwill in their hearts.

But one must always beware of predators who yearn infinitely less to see you fit and trim so much as weakened, savaged, and utterly diminished.  I fear that many of my conservative friends who idealistically yearn to improve the commonweal through developing a leaner and healthier government institution may precipitously fall prey to the encroaching menace of roving jackals. These dangerous predators--habitually emboldened and buzzed-out on high-grade hegemonic envy--may end-game immolate democracy itself.

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Friday, February 9, 2018

The Estrangement Predicament that Faces God

A recent blog (found here) discusses the movie Evan Almighty.  The next link places the above snapshot from Evan within movie context..(click here).  The theater marquee displays the title 40-Year-Virgin -- a relatively concurrent but earlier film also staring Steve Carell.  Nevertheless, the altered movie title on the marquee in Evan Almighty suggests a Biblical/spiritual reference. A family man with wife and children, Evan clearly is not intended to be seen as a sexual virgin.  However God makes it very clear that He and Evan had a relation much less close than the Almighty would prefer.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hi Jimmy Cliff, So Glad You Could Come By

jimmy cliff by nancybanksp

Artist: Sarah Neely        Jimmy Cliff poster available here


The other day I brought home a freshly framed poster of Jimmy Cliff.  I love this particular poster because the artist who painted the original captured the authentic and generous goodwill reflected in much of Cliff's music--music that has helped nourish me over the (sometimes discouragingyears. Once I studied a book that elaborated at great length the importance of the facial area adjacent to the eyes. The book supported the idea that if we feel that one is not telling us the truth, it is this facial area that signals the dishonesty  The frank and affirmative face looking down on me from this poster tonight  I have seen many times before from friendscoworkers, family, and even strangers. 

Jimmy this evening  I would like to talk with you directly. Things are kind of messed in our society because we seem to have let go of creativity and generosity and bit hook, line and sinker for the fool's gold of glittering rationalizations intended to hide (even from ourselves) unseemly and gratuitous infliction of pain for selfish ends. Even our cherished commitment to equal human worthiness is twisted by self-serving rationalistic pretense to mean that since all are dealt an equal number of cards, the shame for those who lack resourcelies squarely upon their own Looser backs. 

Sad to say JimmyI see presumed rank substituted for creativity in my own religious persuasion of Christianity.  can end up contending that I'm holier than thou because dotted an "i" or crossed a "t" or piously employed a hat full of shibboleths that no one else (outside my own mutual admiration society} knows or has any decent reason to know.  Pompous asses of this sort love to consider themselves victims of heathen persecution.  They just don't understand that those lambasted by their condescension are the real victims.

Finally, we come to politicians who hate government and would tear down every pillar of it.  Their insight is truly awesome if not entirely original.  Justice is better served in their view by standing militia rather than by a national military or sworn local officers.  Government and its justice department use timid, tentative judgment whereas vigilante justice and roving militia are by their very nature more virtuous and efficient than a deep state enmeshed in bureaucracy and stultifying process 

Jimmy Cliff, thanks for letting me vent a bit.  I see by your smile (and music) that even if I should pass gas now and then,  you will hang close just a little bit longer.


This following song though not by Jimmy Cliff helps me feel at ease.

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